January 30, 2023

Hearing Aid Types: BTE, ITE, ITC, CIC, and More

Hearing loss is a problem that affects a great many people, and modern technology provides a wide range of options for those that need assistance.

This blog post will discuss five main types of hearing aids, including behind-the-ear (BTE), in-the-ear (ITE), in-the-canal (ITC), completely-in-canal (CIC), and receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aids, as well as cochlear implants, which are often seen as the most advanced form of modern hearing aid.

Hearing aid types

Quick Summary

BTE hearing aids are larger and are placed behind the ear, with a plastic tube connecting them to the ear. They are larger and more visible than other hearing aids, but they also tend to be more powerful, making them a great choice for those with severe hearing loss.

ITE hearing aids are smaller and fit directly into the ear. They are less powerful than BTE, but they are less visible and may be more comfortable.

ITC and CIC hearing aids are even smaller and fit further into the ear. They are the least visible and most discreet, but they are also the least powerful.

Lastly, RIC hearing aids are very similar to ITC and CIC hearing aids, but they use a tiny receiver that sits in the ear canal, connected to a plastic tube that carries sound from the main part of the hearing aid to the ear.

Cochlear implants are a type of hearing aid that is surgically implanted and connected to a receiver worn behind the ear. They are the most powerful and technologically advanced hearing aids available today.


Behind-the-Ear (BTE) Hearing Aids

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BTE hearing aids fit behind the ear and boast an impressive external case with a variety of electronic components. This case is connected to a custom-made earmold, designed to provide a secure fit within the ear canal. The earmold is crafted from a soft, lightweight material and is designed to provide maximum comfort and allow for easy use. The combination of the external case and the earmold ensures optimal hearing and sound quality.

Pros of BTE Hearing Aids

  • BTE hearing aids are highly visible, making them easier to adjust and maintain.
  • They are lightweight and comfortable to wear, allowing all-day use.
  • BTE hearing aids provide excellent sound quality and clarity.
  • BTE hearing aids are discreet and don’t interfere with the user’s appearance.
  • BTE hearing aids are often more affordable than other hearing aid types.

Cons of BTE Hearing Aids

  • BTE hearing aids may be too visible for those who prefer more discreet options.
  • BTE hearing aids may be more prone to feedback than other types of hearing aids.
  • BTE hearing aids may not be suitable for individuals with severe hearing loss.
  • BTE hearing aids can be more prone to damage than other types of hearing aids.
  • BTE hearing aids may be too large for some users and can be uncomfortable to wear.

Companies That Offer BTE Hearing Aids

There are various companies that offer BTE hearing aids. Some of the leading companies include Phonak, Oticon, and ReSound.

Cost of BTE Hearing Aids (Estimation Only)

BTE hearing aids can be relatively affordable, with the average cost ranging from $1,000 to $2,500 depending on the type and features. This cost usually includes the device, external components, and a fitting session. Insurance may cover a portion of the cost.


In-the-Ear (ITE) Hearing Aids

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ITE hearing aids are custom-made hearing aids that are designed to fit snugly on the outer part of the ear, making them less visible than other types of hearing aids.

They are the ideal choice for people who find the sight of traditional hearing aids unappealing, but for those with severe hearing loss, ITE hearing aids may not be suitable. This is because these types of hearing aids are typically not able to provide the same level of amplification as other styles, meaning that they may not be able to adequately address hearing issues.

However, they are still a great option for people with mild to moderate hearing loss who want a discreet and low-maintenance hearing aid solution.

Pros of ITE Hearing Aids

  • Provides superior sound quality.
  • Can be customized to fit the user’s ear.
  • More discreet than other types of hearing aids.
  • Longer battery life.
  • Easier to maintain than other types of hearing aids.

Cons of ITE Hearing Aids

  • Limited amplification range.
  • Can be uncomfortable to wear.
  • May require professional help to adjust.
  • May cause feedback.
  • More expensive than other types of hearing aids.

Companies That Offer ITE Hearing Aids

There are various companies that offer ITE hearing aids. Some of the leading companies that provide this type of hearing aid include Widex, Lyric, and Starkey.

Cost of ITE Hearing Aids (Estimation Only)

ITE hearing aids have an average cost ranging from $1,500 to $3,000 depending on the type and features. This cost usually includes the device, external components, and a fitting session. Insurance may cover a portion of the cost.


In-the-Canal (ITC) Hearing Aids

ITC hearing aids are similar to ITE hearing aids but are much smaller and fit much deeper into the ear canal. This makes them less visible to the outside observer, but they may not be suitable for those with more severe hearing loss.

ITC hearing aids are designed to be used by those with mild to moderate hearing loss, and the size of the hearing aid can make it difficult for those with more severe hearing loss to access the necessary components for proper hearing. As well, since the hearing aid is so small, it can be more difficult to clean and maintain.

Pros of ITC Hearing Aids

  1. Easier to adjust settings as it can be done remotely.
  2. ITC hearing aids are highly reliable.
  3. They are discreet and less visible than other types of hearing aids.
  4. ITC hearing aids are more comfortable than other types of hearing aids.
  5. They provide a natural sound quality.

Cons of ITC Hearing Aids

  1. ITC hearing aids are more expensive than other types of hearing aids.
  2. ITC hearing aids require more maintenance than other types of hearing aids.
  3. They can be difficult to fit properly.
  4. ITC hearing aids have a shorter battery life than other types of hearing aids.
  5. The sound quality can be distorted at higher volumes

Companies That Offer ITC Hearing Aids

There are various companies that offer ITC hearing aids. Some of the leading companies include Oticon, Phonak, and ReSound.

Cost of ITC Hearing Aids (Estimation Only)

ITC hearing aids typically cost between $1,500 and $3,000 depending on the type and features. This cost usually includes the device, external components, and a fitting session. Insurance may cover a portion of the cost.


Completely-in-Canal (CIC) Hearing Aids

CIC hearing aids are the smallest type of hearing aid available, being so small that they fit completely inside the ear canal. This makes them virtually invisible and ideal for those who are self-conscious about wearing a hearing aid.

However, due to their small size, they may not be suitable for those with more severe hearing loss, as the sound amplification may not be enough to provide the desired benefit. In these cases, it is recommended to consider a larger and more powerful hearing aid that is designed to accommodate a higher level of hearing loss.

Pros of CIC Hearing Aids

  • Aids in better hearing and understanding of sound.
  • Fits completely in ear canal, making it almost invisible.
  • Virtually no feedback or whistling.
  • Does not require frequent adjustments or servicing.
  • Improved sound quality and clarity.

Cons of CIC Hearing Aids

  • Can be expensive.
  • Occlusion effect can cause a sensation of the user’s own voice sounding overly loud.
  • Can be difficult to insert and remove.
  • Can be uncomfortable when worn for long periods of time.
  • May require additional accessories for some activities.

Companies That Offer CIC Hearing Aids

There are various companies that offer CIC hearing aids. Some of the leading companies include Widex, Lyric, and Starkey

Cost of CIC Hearing Aids (Estimation Only)

CIC hearing aids can be expensive, with the average cost ranging from $2,500 to $4,500 depending on the type and features.

This cost usually includes the device, external components, and a fitting session. Insurance may cover a portion of the cost.


Receiver-in-Canal (RIC) Hearing Aids

RIC hearing aids are similar to BTE hearing aids but have a very distinct difference: a very thin wire that runs from the main unit to the ear canal.

This type of hearing aid offers a number of advantages over traditional BTE hearing aids, such as being more comfortable to wear and less visible when worn.

Additionally, the thin wire allows for a greater range of motion, making it easier to adjust the hearing aid to the user’s individual needs.

With the improved comfort and better sound quality, RIC hearing aids offer a great solution for people who need hearing assistance.

Pros of RIC Hearing Aids

  1. Small, discreet design.
  2. Flexible and comfortable fit.
  3. Replaceable, interchangeable components.
  4. Easy to adjust sound settings.
  5. Long battery life.

Cons of RIC Hearing Aids

  1. Can be difficult to insert correctly.
  2. Expensive.
  3. Regular maintenance and cleaning is required.
  4. Noisy environments can interfere with sound quality.
  5. May not fit all ear shapes.

Companies That Offer RIC Hearing Aids

There are various companies that offer RIC hearing aids. Some of the leading companies include Phonak, Oticon, and ReSound.

Cost of RIC Hearing Aids (Estimation Only)

RIC hearing aids can be expensive, with the average cost ranging from $2,000 to $4,000 depending on the type and features.

This cost usually includes the device, external components, and a fitting session. Insurance may cover a portion of the cost, but you’ll definitely want to check with your provider directly to see if RIC’s are covered.


Cochlear Implants

Cochlear implants are not hearing aids, as they are a type of electronic device that is designed to provide a different way of helping people with severe hearing loss or deafness.

In contrast to traditional hearing aids, which amplify sound to make it easier to hear, cochlear implants bypass the damaged parts of the ear to directly stimulate the auditory nerve.

This type of device is surgically placed directly into the ear and works by sending sound signals to the brain, allowing people with hearing loss to experience sound in a way that would not be possible otherwise.

By using cochlear implants, people with severe hearing loss or deafness can experience sounds and language in a way that was previously impossible.

Pros Of Cochlear Implants

  • Can restore hearing ability to people with severe hearing loss.
  • Allows people to integrate better into social situations.
  • Can improve quality of life.
  • Can improve communication with family and friends.
  • Can improve safety by alerting people to sounds they may not otherwise hear.

Cons Of Cochlear Implants

  • Expensive and not completely covered by insurance.
  • Requires surgery for implantation.
  • May not work as effectively for everyone.
  • Can cause complications.
  • Can cause difficulty in understanding speech in noisy environments.

Companies That Offer Cochlear Implants

There are various companies that offer cochlear implants. Some of the leading companies include Nucleus, MED-EL, and Cochlear Americas.

Cost Of Cochlear Implants (Estimation Only)

Cochlear implants can be an expensive investment, with the average cost ranging from $20,000 to $50,000 depending on the type of device.

This cost usually includes the implant surgery, device, and external components. Insurance may cover a portion of the cost, but it is important to check with your provider to understand what is covered.